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May 19, 2015 6:56 AM

Portugal investigates police beating of man at soccer game

The Associated Press

LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese prosecutors are investigating a policeman who beat a man in front of his young children and punched their grandfather outside a soccer stadium, sparking a national scandal.

The district prosecutor said in a statement late Monday it has opened an investigation into alleged abuse of power. The government department that oversees the police also said it is investigating police actions at the stadium.

The incident brought outrage and wide criticism of the police on Portuguese social media.

Police approached Jose Magalhaes, his two sons and his father Sunday outside Guimaraes stadium in northern Portugal, where Benfica had just won the Portuguese league title, according to film footage and witness reports.

Magalhaes said police had allowed him and his sons, who were wearing Benfica jerseys, to leave the stadium before other fans because the children were being crushed. Video footage shows the family by a low wall, where one child is sitting and drinking a bottle of water, and few other people in the vicinity as police held rival fans inside the stadium to avoid clashes in surrounding streets.

An officer questions Magalhaes, then punches his elderly father before using a truncheon to beat Magalhaes, who was on the ground while his 9-year-old child screamed "Dad! Dad!"

Magalhaes was struck repeatedly before being handcuffed. Another policeman in riot gear with a shield keeps the child away and then tries to pick him up as he cries.

On Monday, Magalhaes told reporters outside a Guimaraes court that the policeman asked him why he had taken his children to a soccer game where he knew there could be trouble. Magalhaes said he replied that the police should be more concerned about people getting crushed inside the stadium, at which point the policeman assaulted him.

Magalhaes said the policeman alleged in evidence presented to the court that Magalhaes spat at him a charge he denied. Magalhaes said the police had been kind to him and his family by allowing them to leave the stadium early.

Benfica said it would invite Magalhaes and his sons to watch the final game of the season at its stadium in Lisbon next weekend, and the two children will go onto the field for the presentation of the league trophy.

Meanwhile, the club has criticized some of its fans, who pelted police with bottles and stones during celebrations in Lisbon on Sunday night. Riot police moved in to clear downtown streets after midnight as violence erupted.


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